Three hit by boat on Norris Lake, 16-year-old airlifted to hospital

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CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Officials say three were taken to area hospitals after being struck by a boat on Norris Lake in Campbell County.

Three children were taken to area hospitals after being struck by a boat on the lake near the White Bridge Access area. Earlier, TWRA reported that they fell off an innertube while being pulled by a boat, and that the children were hit by the boat's propeller after the boat's driver returned to pick them up. However, through more witness interviews, information gathered by TWRA revealed that the kids were hit while still on the innertube.

According to the witnesses' information, four kids were on the tube when they realized they were about to be hit as the boat made a turn. Two jumped off, one of whom was the 16-year-old girl. She was hit and later airlifted to UT Medical Center. The other person who jumped off was not injured. The two who remained on the innertube were injured and transferred to LaFollette Medical Center.

TWRA said that the victims, as well as the party they were with, were visiting from Ohio. The boat has been impounded while officials investigate.

Matthew Cameron, with TWRA, said,

"I can't imagine how devastated you would be being the operator of that boat of a pure accident."

A accident that ruined this group's trip from Ohio and hit close to home for many other boaters from East Tennessee.

James Cooley has been boating the waterways here for 15 years and said he lost his friend in a boating accident two years ago. He slipped off the boat and wasn't wearing a life jacket.

"He could've been here today with me and I would've loved to have been with him,"
Cooley said.

Officials said these accidents happen too often, a person is struck by a boat at least a few times a year across East Tennessee. When a propeller strikes a human, there's usually severe injuries according to Cameron. He said drivers should turn off the engine completely when approaching a person in the water.

"A sharp propeller turning thousands of revolutions per minute. Turning it off ensures that propeller isn't spinning,"
he said.

Officials said the biggest mistake is not wearing a life jacket.